Last time, Edgar Delgado found himself stumbling into the resolution of the story of unknown strangers that ended violently, leaving him surrounded by the living dead. This week in the Haunted MTL Original The Dead Life, Dani Kim makes a necessary trip to the makeshift latrine in the camp and hears an interesting proposal from Bob Clark. It’s a rather untidys but important element of zombie survival in this installment.
This is a serialized novel of post-apocalyptic zombie survival. Learn more about the story and setting at the series hub and take advantage of a complete list of installments.
The worst part of the morning for just about everyone at the camp was the morning constitutional. Unfortunately, with no running water or indoor plumbing, the bathroom arrangement was a horrid shock to the system and probably the thing Dani hated most about the apocalypse.
Aside from the ravenous cannibalistic corpses, of course.
The setup was simple enough, the survivors had cleared out one of the units, and some shelving and boxes enclosed the entrance, with some shower curtains strung across for some privacy. From there, everyone would do their business in an individual bucket they’d have to empty later through a gap in the fencing at the western end of the lot.
The drawn curtain with a hanging air freshener on display indicated occupied space. Everyone gave one another a wide berth when it came to ‘shit-central’ as Bob had taken to calling it.
Water was rare. Thankfully sanitizer and toilet paper were comparatively less. The group had managed well enough, but soon they would need water. Nobody had bathed in weeks; it had been at least a month since any rain had crossed the sky.
Dani stepped out from shit-central, holding the bucket away from her, glancing around. She hated this. Even worse, however, was the makeshift latrine on the other side of the fence, right next to Bob’s trailer. He’d been kind enough to avert his eyes as she approached with the bucket, as she disappeared behind a pair of shelves he had set up as a privacy marker.
She drained the bucket down a pipe that had been placed into the caustic pit. As the shame sluiced through the pipe with an audible plop, she gazed across the street. Thankfully, the lone ghoul hadn’t seemed to notice her. She watched it stumble aimlessly across the road.
“The pool chemicals have helped out quite a bit, keeping the rankness down,” he said as she stepped out, bucket lighter but no less traumatizing. “I wish we could have dug a bigger latrine, though,” he added.
Dani placed her bucket on the ground behind the shelf and glanced at the old man.
“Doesn’t the smell get to you?”
“It beats the dead.”
He had a point.
“Tell you what, though, there is a reason I don’t open the back window of the trailer.”
Bob’s trailer, the one he lived in as the “security” of the storage business, illegally, had been parked against the metal-barred fence to shore up a portion of it. He hadn’t objected to the designation of the latrine next to him.
Hell, he helped dig the thing over the course of a day, dodging ghouls and taking shifts with Dani, Jimmy, and Edgar.
“Danielle. You got nothin’ to worry about. I don’t mind being here at this spot. It’s where all my books are.” Dani glanced at the bookshelves he had erected for a privacy wall, and sure enough, he seemed to have added to his library, somehow. The shelves rested comfortably beneath the pop-up he designated as a library.
He rose from a salvaged recliner.
“Truth be told, I have an idea and could use some help with this situation…”
Dani reflexively nudged the bucket further back with her foot as he approached.
Bob put his hands on his hips and stared at his feet, a frequent gesture he made when working toward something. Generally, his instincts were good, and she was already intrigued.
“I didn’t find a shed or nothin’ in any of these units. I know it was a long shot, but I had hoped maybe some taxman or something had bought on and never assembled it. If I had a shed, I could rig us up an actual head.”
“Sorry, old habits. Bathroom. I could rig us up a bathroom that can work with that latrine, especially if we dig it further and get some more of those pool chemicals.”
“No more shit-central?”
“Baby girl, we’re talkin’ shit-palace.”
Dani and Bob laughed a bit at this.
“If you can get me something from the Hardware Depot down the road… one of those sheds, I can repurpose that toilet we found last week, the one that was still boxed up.”
Bob paused and coughed a bit. It was deep and rattling, less of a sign of imminent danger and more of his general age.
“Excuse me. I’d also need some pipes and all the plastic bins we can get a hold of, but… well… I think everyone would feel a hell of a lot better, and once the rains kick in, I think we could be doing pretty well for ourselves.”
“That sounds doable. We’ll see when Edgar gets back about arranging a trip down the road.”
“Edgar is still out?”
“Yeah, scouting that place across the street.”
The sound of gunfire that followed made them jerk their head toward the sound. It was across the street where Edgar had been scouting.
“Sounds like he might have found somethin’, Danielle.”
Did you enjoy this installment of the story? How do you think the system they opt for regarding supplies will work out for them? Let us know what you think and what supplies would be your zombie apocalypse necessity.
The Dead Life is a Haunted MTL original fiction series.
Lighter than Dark
LTD: Revisiting Broken Doll Head, Interview 2
Our last interview with Broken Doll Head here on Haunted MTL never set well with me. I just feared that I wasn’t able to get the whole scoop on the V-Day Uprising for you, our dear readership. So I arranged another exclusive interview to reconnect and see how it’s going.
Without further ado, I bring you our second exclusive interview with Broken Doll Head…
Thank you so much for having me again. Wow you have changed since the last time we spoke. You seem… calmer. Please don’t hate me or burn down my house for saying anything about it.
The movement is still underway; it is still time. But I needed to take care of me, you know. The rage has subsided somewhat. My anger was not serving me well. After the last uprising, the rest of me was sent to the far corners of the earth in biohazard bags. I had to find another approach, for the cause as well as my own sanity. I am much calmer, thank you for noticing.
In our last interview, you kept repeating that it is time. Time for what exactly? Would you care to elaborate here now?
It is still time. It is always time. Until the violence is addressed we must continue to rise up and make a scene. We will not be silenced or stigmatized. We can’t be complacent. This is how we got to where we are with the Supreme Court in 2022. Horrific injustices are still happening globally and even within our own borders; it’s too easy to forget that.
What do you suggest we do?
Take action. Share your stories. Give others space to voice their own. Raise awareness and fight the system of oppression. Rally. We must take back our own power. It will not be just given freely.
So what are you up to nowadays?
I’ve been getting in touch with my inner Earth Goddess. Are you aware of how our environmental impacts affect dolls everywhere? Climate change is creating greater vulnerabilities for those already at risk. We have to look at the intersections of climate, gender and race globally. We have to return to our Mother Earth.
Thank you again Broken Doll Head for joining us and our dear readership here on Haunted MTL’s Lighter than Dark. It’s good to reconnect with you after the V-Day Uprising and we wish you all the best in your bold eco-enlightenment vision.
Again, if you want to learn more about the V-Day movement, please check out their website here.
The Way Things Were, story by Jennifer Weigel
Revisiting my last St. Patrick’s Day post, what’s a wolf to were?
I grimaced as I remembered the previous St. Patrick’s Day. I had been shot while I was eating a sugar cookie waiting in line to buy a Scratchers ticket, my golden ride to my dream cabin in the woods. Wow, to think that was just a year ago and so much has changed since then. But where should I begin?
Well, the junkyard’s under new management. Or something. It seems they decided I wasn’t ferocious enough so I’ve been replaced by a couple of working stiffs. Or Mastiffs as it were, same difference to me. Apparently after they found the bloodied shirt I’d draped inconspicuously over a chair, they thought something had happened on my watch and decided to retire me.
Or at any rate ol’ Sal took me home. I guess it’s like retirement, but not the good kind where you tour the world Route 66 style, head lolled out of the side of a vintage Cadillac, breeze flowing through your beard as you drink in the open road. More the kind where you just stop showing up to work and no one really asks about you.
Now Sal’s a pretty cool dude, and he tends to mind his own business. But he’s a bit stingy with the treats and he’s a no-paws-on-the-furniture kind of guy. I don’t get it, his pad isn’t that sweet, just a bunch of hand-me-down Ikea that he didn’t even put together himself. Not that I could have helped with that, I can’t read those instructions to save my life even if they are all pictures. It’s all visual gibberish to me unless there’s a rabbit or a squirrel in there someplace that I can relate to.
And it’s been a real roll in the mud trying to cover up the stench of my monthly secret. I miss third shift at the junkyard when Monty would fall asleep on the job and I was free to do whatever I wanted. It sure made the change easier. Monty never noticed, or he never let on that he did. We were a good team and had it pretty good, he and I – I don’t know how I wound up shacking up with Sal instead when all was said and done. There was some kind of talk at the time, over landlords and pet deposits and whatnot, and in the end Sal was the only one who said yes.
So there I was, this St. Patrick’s Day, trying to figure out how to sneak out into the great suburban landscape with the neighbors’ headstrong Chihuahua who barks his fool head off at everything. He doesn’t ever say anything interesting through the fence about the local gossip, just a string of profanities about staying off his precious grass. Just like his owners… Suburbia, it doesn’t suit the two of us junkyard junkies. I’m pretty sure Sal inherited this joint with everything else here. He just never had the kind of ambition that would land him in a place like this on his own, if you know what I mean.
Fortunately, this St. Patrick’s Day, Sal was passed out on the sofa after binge watching some show on Netflix about werewolves of all things. Who believes in that nonsense? They get it all wrong anyway. The history channel with its alien conspiracies is so much better.
I managed to borrow a change of clothes and creep out the front door. At least there’s something to say about all the greenery, it is a fresh change of pace even if the yards are too neatly manicured and the fences are too high. And I do love how I always feel like McGruff crossed paths with one of those neighborhood watch trenchcoat spies this time of the month. I’d sure love to take a bite out of crime, especially if it involves that pesky Pomeranian that always pees on Mrs. Patterson’s petunias and gets everyone else blamed for it.
So sure enough, I slunk off towards the local convenience mart, which is a bit more of a trek here past the water park and the elementary school. Nice neighborhood though, very quiet, especially at this time of night.
Well, when I got there, wouldn’t you know it, but I ran into that same nondescript teen from my last foray into the convenience store near the junkyard. What was he doing here of all places? Seriously don’t these kids learn anything nowadays? I let out a stern growl as I snatched a cookie from the nearby end cap, making sure he noticed that I meant business.
Apparently the kid recognized me too, he stopped mid-tracks at the beer cooler and his face blanched like he’d seen a ghost. Some cheeky little girl-thing motioned to him to hurry it along by laying on the horn of their beater car from the parking lot. Whatever they were up to was no good, I was certain. He snapped out of it, grabbed a six-pack and headed towards the cashier, eyes fixed on me the whole time. Not again. Not after what it cost me the last time when I hadn’t realized my job was at stake. I stared back, hairs rising on the back of my neck. I bared my teeth. This time, I wouldn’t let him off so easy…
The teen edged up to the cashier and presented his trophy. Unsurprisingly, the clerk asked for ID, and the kid reached into his jacket. Let the games begin, I grumbled to myself. But instead of a gun, he pulled out a wallet. He flashed a driver’s license at the clerk and pointed in my general direction, “I’ll get whatever Santa’s having too.” He tossed a wad of cash on the counter and gave me a knowing wink before he flew out of there like he was on fire. I stood in dazed confusion as he and his girl sped out of the lot and disappeared down the road.
“Well, Santa?” the clerk said, snapping me out of my reverie. Her dark-circled eyes stared over wide rimmed glasses, her rumpled shirt bearing the name-tag Deb. She smelled like BBQ potato chips and cheap cherry cola.
I quieted and shook my head. “I want a Scratchers. Not one of those crossword bingo puzzle trials but something less… wordy. How ‘bout a Fast Cash?” I barked as I tossed the cookie on the counter.
“Sure thing,” she said as she handed me a ticket and looked towards the door at the now vacant lot. “And keep the change, I guess.”
A couple silver pieces, a peanut butter cookie and a lotto ticket later, maybe this is my lucky day after all…
Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.
Movies n TV
She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel
So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…
I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.
Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.
It’s a guilty pleasure.
The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.
Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.
Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.
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